These outdoor lighting ideas are just what you need to add that all-important glow at dusk. It's not one to overlook, as with the right lighting, you can really transform your backyard.
Experiment with various styles for different areas: think spotlights on steps, uplighting on trees, or cozy lanterns around outdoor seating, for example. Choose the right lighting and you can quickly add interest to a patio space, highlight key features such as your favorite plants, draw attention to a garden pergola that's set up for alfresco dining, or even create warmth in a shadowy corner.
To help you transform your space so you can get a better view of your garden from indoors and out, we've rounded up the best outdoor lighting ideas, from on-trend festoon lights and pretty fairy lights to more practical designs to light pathways and doors. It's amazing what the best outdoor lights can do to make a plot look magical.
Outdoor lighting ideas: 52 stunning ways to illuminate your space
Garden lighting is one of the easiest ways to introduce added ambience after dark. These beautiful schemes are sure to get you inspired to give your space a beautiful evening glow.
1. Add twinkling festoons above a hammock
Ramp up the ambience of your garden's chill-out zone with festoon light ideas. They're ideal for creating a laid-back vibe, and tend to be affordable too.
String them up around a covered deck or patio and you'll be tempted to use the area well into the evening – especially if you've added in plenty of comfy seating and chic accessories. And, if your structure overhead is strong enough, why not bring in a hammock too? It'll make the perfect addition to the space.
2. Go for smart wall lights for your front door
All front garden ideas need illuminating when night falls, especially around the front door. But why go for one light when you can have two? Symmetry almost always looks smart, after all.
These modern black wall lights make a stylish statement against white cladded walls, and complement the door's design to a tee. Exposed bulbs add a sense of industrial-chic, whilst pretty pink roses bring an element of softness to the scene. It's a lovely way to welcome both you and your guests to your home.
3. Position lighting near water for a magical view
Soft light reflecting off of water will always look magical. So, if you've got garden pond ideas, think about how you can combine them with your lighting for an awe-inspiring scene.
These dandelion clock designs looks utterly enchanting on a gently sloping bank nearby, creating an other-worldly view from the far side of the water. If you're looking for an alternative option, think about installing pond lights beneath the water – they'll offer a bewitching glow and, when positioned carefully, will help to highlight pretty aquatic plants too.
4. Hang statement pendants from a sturdy structure
Some of the best lights include those that can be suspended from above. Does your outdoor space include sturdy patio cover ideas such as a pergola or gazebo? As well as keeping your seating sheltered, they're perfect for hanging statement pendants from.
Architectural designs like these are a fantastic way to elevate a contemporary plot. Crafted from durable, painted aluminium, they bring an industrial tone to this dining scene, especially in conjunction with the black table. Meanwhile, plenty of climbing foliage adds a textural element to the set-up and offers a soothing dose of green.
5. Create a subtle glow with uplights
If you're looking for a more understated approach, then opt for subtle uplights as part of your garden lighting ideas.
Highlight built-in benches and other features of your patio for a warming, cozy glow. And, nestling uplights within your flowerbed ideas and beneath your potted trees will allow you to appreciate the range of organic forms and colors even when night falls.
A cluster of flickering candles in pretty lanterns or holders will add to the enchanting vibe and boost the feeling of romance – perfect for intimate evening gatherings.
6. Go for soft solar lighting in sleek styles
LEDs are an easy choice when it comes to outdoor lighting ideas. There's none of the hassle with plug sockets, nor the dangers of open flames. Futuristic designs like these are ideal for casting a dreamy glow across your garden at dusk, and can be moved around the space to suit you.
Invest in more than one in different sizes for a sculptural look. Then, pair with minimal, low-level furniture and natural stone paving for a soothing oasis of calm. Don't forget a neutral outdoor rug underfoot for extra comfort – our best outdoor rugs buying guide has lots of lovely picks.
7. Try a contemporary beam design over a dining area
Ensure your outdoor dining ideas can be enjoyed well into the evening come rain or shine with the help of a slimline hanging light like this. Not only does it have a built-in heater for keeping the ambience toasty, but there is also a dimmer to switch up the mood whenever you like.
Its sleek lines and charcoal hue look wonderful against the dark wooden cladding of a veranda, offering a grown-up vibe. A smart table and chic chairs make the perfect match for the style – our gallery of garden table ideas has more stunning designs.
8. Add feature lighting to a fireplace
This uber-contemporary plot has got us falling heads over heels thanks to its considered design and bold sweeps of stone. Uplights draw the eye around the space, catching the elegant branches of small trees and showcasing subtly textured materials.
The real show-stopper, however, has to be the generously-sized fireplace at the heart of the garden. Our favorite part? The staggered and recessed light fixtures that adorn it – which also double up as a climbing wall for the homeowner.
Looking for more inspiration for outdoor heating ideas? Our guide has plenty of inspo.
9. Wrap string lights around a pergola to create a twinkling canopy
One of our favorite things about pergolas is the opportunities they offer when it comes to outdoor lighting ideas.
We love how this one has been used to create a magical canopy with layers of string lights. Our pergola ideas have even more lovely looks for your space.
10. Go for a trio of complementary pendants
If you're looking for something a little different for your outdoor lighting ideas, then designs like these might be just the ticket. They're crafted from knitted, weather-resistant rope, which gives them a unique aesthetic that fits perfectly into boho or tropical schemes. What's more, the intricate design will cast beautiful shadows across your patio or terrace, and the brightness can be dimmed to suit the mood.
We love how a set of three have been used for greater impact in this display above. Hung from a leafy branch overhead, they certainly elevate the scene, but could be suspended from a pergola too as part of your patio lighting ideas.
11. Cozy up a courtyard
Good lighting is important in gardens of all shapes and sizes, and courtyard garden ideas are no exception. These boxed-in plots with high walls and plenty of paving can feel cold and uninviting, but even a minimal set-up can be given a boost of warmth with lovely lights.
Take this scene, for instance, which sports a duo of fuss-free wall lights and spotlights for a subtle yet stylish glow. Flickering candles in amber-hued jars add to the atmosphere and offer a form of organic movement.
12. Embrace a whimsical look
If you're prepping your garden party ideas for a special get-together this season, why not take a cue from this pretty tealight holder above? With the addition of fresh blooms it feels extra magical. We think it would make a gorgeous centerpiece above a table laden with cupcakes, neatly-cut sandwiches and bowls of fruit punch.
Of course, you wouldn't need to wait for a particular occasion to enjoy a design like this – there's no reason you can't add a sense of whimsical grandeur to any meal spent alfresco.
13. Add a miniature moon to your flowerbed
When it comes to learning how to plan garden lighting, it's important to consider the desired mood you want to create. For instance, do you want twinkling fairy lights for a sense of enchantment, contemporary wall lights to set a smart and sophisticated tone, or perhaps festoons for laid-back rooftop bar vibes?
Well, if setting a mystical, Zen-like tone appeals, then what about bringing your own miniature moon into your garden lighting ideas? This design looks beautiful tucked amongst white gravel and textural bamboo, and will certainly capture everyone's attention.
14. Make a striking first impression
Front gardens are oh-so-important – after all, first impressions count.
A smart lighting scheme will always give your plot extra kerb appeal when night falls. Plus, it's practical too – whether you need a welcoming light to help you find your keys or want to boost your home's security levels.
This scheme includes stylish wall lights, as well as recessed uplights lining the top step. Further lighting shows off the structural topiary either side of the door, too, adding to the sense of drama.
15. Introduce flower-shaped lights to your containers
If you want to take your window box ideas up a notch, then something like this is a failsafe approach. They're fun, they're pretty, and you can bet that they'll bring a smile to both children and adults alike.
Look for solar-powered options like these for a super-easy update. Then, tuck them amongst your favorite blooms for an enchanting view from both indoors and out. We love how these contrast against the deep red tones of heucheras, but they'd look just as lovely amongst cosmos, dahlias, or even lime-green alchemilla mollis.
16. Add a woven style to your enclosed patio
Enclosed patio ideas are a real extension of the home, offering you shelter from the elements all year round. They can be styled similarly to an indoor room too – with the likes of comfy sofas, outdoor rugs, a coffee table, and of course, stylish outdoor lighting ideas.
To keep the vibe harmonious, stick with a limited range of colors or textural finishes, such as neutral hues or – like in this scene – woven rattan details. The eye-catching, oversized pendant here works fantastically alongside the furniture and cover overhead, for instance. We also like how the nearby potted plant adds to a subtly tropical tone with its architectural foliage.
17. Opt for decorative outdoor lighting ideas for colorful walls
Some outdoor lighting ideas can really elevate a theme. Take this playful set-up for example. The octagonal, metallic designs draw the eye to a statement olive-green wall, as well as providing an angular contrast to the soft fern fronds below. In this case, a row of three fills the space well, and is visually appealing.
Paired with glossy-tiled surroundings in retro shades, the set-up is definitely one that's unique. But if you're a fan of more eclectic styles, then why not give it a go? You could always pair with more neutral colors and textures if you prefer a softer look. Our garden color schemes guide has lots of inspiration.
18. Hang LED tealights from trees
For soft, twinkly lighting opt for LED jars, which can be hung from tree branches for a magical touch. Not only do they look gorgeous, but they also make a great alternative to candles, as you won't need to worry about the safety precautions of open flames.
19. Light up your driveway
Turning a dull driveway into a spectacular entrance is simple with statement garden lighting ideas. And, if you opt for solar-powered designs like these, it's even easier to create an impact.
Lining both sides with stake lights will make a strong impression, whether you opt for sculptural designs or something more minimal. Alternatively, these lights can also be used as pendants, so you could try hanging them from nearby trees to dramatically illuminate branches. Add lights to your gateposts as well for a striking finishing touch.
Looking for more stunning designs for the front of your plot? Our driveway ideas feature has plenty of inspo.
20. Weave fairy lights around a trellis
Trellis ideas for gardens are brilliant features for any backyard. Not only are they stylish, but they are also super versatile: you use them as a screen between garden zones, to pep up blank walls with clambering climbers, or to top existing walls for an extra boost of height and privacy.
Whichever option you've gone for, try winding a string of pretty, outdoor-friendly fairy lights around the structure. It will only up the overall effect and bring the best climbing plants to life at nighttime. If you're looking for a super low maintenance option, look for a design that already has lights attached, like this faux ivy display.
21. Try caged shades for industrial-chic style
Caged hanging lights are great to add a touch of urban chic to your patio or seating area. The modern design looks super-stylish and also allows the light to create interesting shadows on nearby walls as it shines through.
Why not invest in two or three for maximum impact? These versions above are solar-panelled too, so no need to worry about wiring electrics.
22. Introduce light-up sculptures
You can now find outdoor lighting ideas which double up as stunning works of art – just look at this example above. Turn your garden into a fairytale with this beautiful hogweed design with twinkly lights at its tips. It's bound to be admired by guests when entertaining alfresco.
23. Use reflective materials to up the wow factor
Be creative and design a completely different look for your garden at night. Throw a net of LED lights over a hedge or pergola to create a magical look for parties and other alfresco get-togethers. It's so easy to do and takes only a few minutes to set up.
Then, use reflections to enhance the magical effect and add to the shimmer. All you need is something like a decorative metal screen or polished tiles to pick up the reflections. You can achieve the same look with water feature ideas or garden mirror ideas.
24. Make a feature of your hedges with outdoor lighting ideas
Add interest to a wall of foliage by using LED net lights. They create a twinkling border and help to soften the dense look of hardy planting like hedging.
The nets are so fine that you won't be able to tell they're there, even in daylight – so all you'll notice is the gentle shine of the LED bulbs come evening.
25. Light up your tree for a magical effect
Trees are a valuable part of any garden, providing structure and a focal point around which planting schemes are designed.
Make the most of yours by draping it with string lights. It creates a magical scene at night when the leaves and branches come to life in the light's glow. There are plenty more designs in our outdoor tree lighting ideas gallery.
26. Create atmosphere while you're dining alfresco
One of the key purposes of garden lighting ideas is to help zone your plot, highlighting key areas like living or dining spaces.
If you love eating and hosting outdoors, thinking carefully about your dining lighting scheme is important. You want to create atmosphere while also providing enough light for people to see the delicious spread you've cooked up.
We like this idea of having string lights wrapped around a simple metal bar to create a centerpiece for your outdoor dining ideas. It's simple, yet so effective.
27. Up the cozy factor in an outdoor living room
Atmosphere is as important outdoors as it is in your house. So, make sure you're planning the lighting scheme for your outdoor living area with coziness in mind.
Use lights, lanterns or candles to create a warm glow that provides a soft light, similar to that of gently flickering candles. We love how this set-up uses festoon string lights for a simple style.
28. Use festoon lights for modern charm
Perhaps one of the easiest outdoor lighting ideas to get hold of – and to style – festoon lights are a popular choice for gardens.
They can be hung up over an outdoor seating area or strung along garden fence ideas to provide lighting all the way around the garden. Plus, their minimal, slightly bohemian-inspired style goes with any space, whether yours is a traditional garden or an industrial-style landscape.
29. Light up fences or walls with lanterns
The glow of wall lanterns gives a warm welcome when they're hung outside a front door, but you can get the same good feeling by using them at the back of the house too.
Try framing your back door with them, or attach them to a freshly painted fence to show off your handiwork.
30. Go for low, glowing lights for added atmosphere
Outdoor spaces used for relaxation and entertaining can be lit in a similar way to indoors with sleek low-level lamps.
Choose a style that throws out a calming ambient light to add a little hygge to your patio space when it comes to downtime.
You can always use lanterns as a test run – work out how you want to light different areas and see what effects you can achieve. After experimenting, you may decide that LED lanterns grouped together is all you need.
31. Group together designs for added impact
Lanterns give off such a lovely soft glow and you can rest assured you won’t need to keep rebuying pillar candles if you go for LED versions.
These designs above each come with an LED candle that runs off batteries, plus there's a six-hour timer so you can set them to come on just as dusk falls. Perfect.
32. Use a duo of pendants outdoors as well as in
It's perfectly possible to bring any element of indoor lighting outdoors, as long as you're using a product with the right specifications. Case in point: pendant lights, which look amazing hung above a dining table or seating area and make a space feel more like a room of its own.
This dining area could be mistaken for an indoor scene thanks to the combination of rugs, potted plants and those pendants.
33. Create a welcoming glow
Nothing says welcome home quite like a warm glow. Use outdoor lighting ideas to enhance your front porch ideas and create a soft subtle effect that brings one or two elements into focus, like a door or window.
Remember that when it comes to front gardens, flooding the space with harsh light doesn't look great and won't win you any friends among your neighbors. Instead, opt for more of a theatrical effect by emphasizing one or two key things and leaving everything else in shadow.
34. Add structural lighting with posts
If you have long or wide garden path ideas that could do with some lighting – whether that's because it's a key part of the space or because it leads to a living or dining area – consider adding statement style with some posts. Best for structured gardens and larger plots, they're practical as well as super stylish.
35. Or, keep it subtle with stakes
Smaller, more slimline stakes are also a great choice for outdoor lighting ideas for paths. And, they can also be used to great effect in-between planting to highlight favorite flowers or bring attention to a container garden.
These ones are solar powered, so they can be placed anywhere in the garden without the worry of having to switch them on and off each night. Our best solar lights buying guide has many more stunning styles.
36. Light up pathways with flush-to-the-floor lights
On a practical level, you might need outdoor lighting ideas to help you and your guests make their way around your garden. If you're not keen on posts or stake lights, consider using lights that sit flush to the floor for a more subtle option.
They'll also help to highlight plants along your border, adding an extra architectural element to your space.
37. Enhance your exterior
Downlighting is good for illuminating textural qualities such as brick detailing and other architectural features. As well as lighting the way and showing off your exterior, stylish wall lights in soft metals such as brushed copper and polished brass can enhance the design aesthetic by throwing out a soft wash of light.
They take a little planning though, as they need to be connected to the mains electricity supply. It's always best to get a professional to take care of the wiring.
Our best outdoor wall lights buying guide has lots more great ideas.
38. Try globe lights for an architectural effect
Want to make a feature of your outdoor lighting ideas? This dome-shaped design looks like a spherical stone feature by day, but by night it lights up with a warm glow for an eye-catching architectural feature.
39. Bring the indoors out with a floor lamp
We've already sung the praises of using 'indoor' lighting in the form of pendant lights outside, but it doesn't stop there: you can even buy floor lamps designed for outdoor use.
Go for a slimline design so it'll slot into the smallest of spaces (perfect for balcony ideas), and if you choose a solar powered design it won't need to be connected to your mains supply.
40. Choose a bulkhead style for an industrial look
Bulkhead outdoor lighting ideas are a great option for those who love the raw industrial style. They are inspired by nautical themes and have an aluminium shade with a gunmetal finish.
The light cascades so you can use them to highlight a particular part of the garden or to illuminate a path.
41. Hang outdoor lighting ideas from a parasol for a chandelier effect
If you use one of the best garden parasols for shade in a dining area, consider keeping it up at night and using it as a base from which to hang pendants.
These solar pendant lights create a chandelier effect above this dining set, but fairy or festoon lights wrapped around the pole will look equally effective.
42. Play around with different heights
Good outdoor lighting ideas are all about the layering, so add complexity to your scheme by using an assortment of designs at different vertical points of your garden.
The outdoor living space ideas in the set-up above are made even more cozy thanks to the table lights emitting a warm glow at eye level and festoon lights overhead.
43. Opt for classic good looks
If you're after an uber-stylish design that will stand out from the crowd, it's worth investing in a designer buy. The design pictured is crafted to last using century old techniques and comes in either a black or galvanized silver finish.
It's suitable for outdoor use (or in a bathroom) and will look fabulous in a traditional setting, such as over a brick archway in your courtyard garden.
44. Use different bulbs for a quirky effect
If you love vintage style, try taking a mix-and-match approach for your outdoor lighting ideas by combining multiple styles in the same area – like hanging different sizes of lanterns from a tree, for example.
We love how these quirky string lights feature bulbs in a range of shapes, from round to teardrop to fluted.
45. Up the drama with light-up planters
Discreet lighting can create a welcoming ambience for the evening garden at any time of year. Plants take on architectural qualities when uplit, with the angled lights enhancing the shape of leaves.
Choose uplights that are either recessed into the ground or set on moveable spikes for illuminating plants and the trunks of potted trees, as they can be shifted to suit the mood. Or, choose modern garden planter ideas with built-in LED lighting that can be controlled with a phone app.
46. Make a playful statement with colorful lights
Add a playful edge to your lighting scheme with colorful festoon lights. Try stringing them along a fence to cheer up a plain backdrop, or drape around a tree for a statement display.
Done right, they can look classy rather than cheesy – stick to small doses and muted colors for the best results. Got a big do coming up? They make a great addition to garden decor ideas.
47. Wrap lights around branches
This cool LED solar lantern chain can be hung in and amongst tree branches, from a parasol, or woven through a trellis.
It is solar powered from one panel that sits 3m (around 10ft) from the first bulb, and when this is positioned in direct sunlight it will charge up, activate at dusk and last for six hours. It’s the perfect cost-effective way to illuminate your garden this summer.
48. Integrate lighting into your furniture to elevate a piece
Make even more of a feature of the best garden furniture in your outside space by framing it with fairy or festoon lights and creating a nighttime focal point; like this inviting and romantic set-up.
This works best for more permanent pieces like outdoor sofas and benches. Try wrapping small LED lights around the back of a newly painted bench for instant charm.
49. Add a fun ornamental feature with a novelty lamp
Lovers of kitsch, pay attention: we've found the best garden lighting for those who enjoy a touch of garishness in these delightful monkey outdoor lamps.
They're an ornament and garden lighting solution in one. Place one of these on your outdoor coffee table for a great talking point.
50. Illuminate your path
For a stylish modern setting, a row of outdoor post lamps will be a striking garden feature. These designs have a nautical cage design finished in carbon and you can use them to light up pathways and driveways – no more searching for the torch.
51. Combine light and warmth with a patio heater
If you're looking for outdoor lighting, chances are you're planning on spending a decent amount of time in your garden in the summer evenings – and you'll need a heating source to stay comfortable as the temperature drops.
One of the best patio heaters can do two jobs at once, keeping you warm and emitting a cozy glow that will see you through plenty of barbecues and alfresco dinner parties.
52. Add romantic atmosphere with candles (real or fake)
We couldn't forget the number one source of hygge in homes all over the country now, could we? Candles are a great way to up the cozy factor in any room, but taken outdoors they're tricky to maintain – the slightest breeze and they're blown out. Enter LED candles.
Far from the cheap and nasty designs of old, the new faux candles are super lifelike, emitting a flickering glow that feels just like a flame. Arrange a few in different heights on your coffee table for instant atmosphere.
How do you choose a garden light?
Start by choosing which areas of the garden you would like to illuminate, and think about why. Perhaps you'd like to add something twinkly to a particularly attractive tree for an added dose of atmosphere. Or, maybe you're on the lookout for something more practical to line your pathways.
Although not always essential, you may decide to stick with a theme that complements already-existing features. For example, if you have a lot of traditional metal fixtures and cottage garden ideas in your plot, you may wish to pick antique-style lighting styles that blend in with the environment.
When choosing your garden lights, Lights4fun suggests considering how you would like to power them. 'If there isn't access to power, battery and solar lights are great alternatives,' they say.
'Battery lights are perfect for popping in flowerbeds and greenery. Solar lights are even easier; simply place them in a sunny spot and they'll automatically illuminate each evening,' the team continues. 'If you have access to outdoor power, this lends perfectly to big and bright festoons swagged around your outdoor space.'
Think about your budget, too – our guide on how much does garden lighting cost is full of helpful advice to help you plan your scheme.
If you live within five miles of the coast or an estuary, Jamie Moxey from Dusk Lighting also suggests choosing coastal lighting. This is built to withstand the salty air and won’t corrode. 'Apart from that, choosing lighting is a personal preference and dependent on what you want to achieve,' he says.
How bright should garden lights be?
The brightness of garden lights is determined by personal choice, as says Jamie Moxey, Design Consultant at Dusk Lighting. However, it can be influenced by the objective – whether you want it for decorative, functional, or security purposes, he adds.
'For security lighting, you would be looking for brighter lights than if you were looking to add decorative lighting for an alfresco dining area for summer evenings. Brightness is determined by the lumen value – higher lumen results in a brighter light which is important for goals such as deterring intruders and illuminating pathways.'
'These choices will also be determined by the size of the outdoor space,' Jamie continues. When illuminating a larger space, you would benefit from brighter lights.
Pathway lighting of 100-200 lumens is suitable. For more atmospheric lighting, a range of 50-300 lumens will work well to create attractive interest whilst avoiding glare. Flood lights used for security should be much higher, at around 700 lumens. Why not double it up with one of the best security cameras for even more peace of mind?
Should all exterior lights match?
'For exterior lighting, the key to a cohesive-style finish is a design flow rather than a strict matching policy,' says Jamie Moxey, Design Consultant at Dusk Lighting.
One common method to achieve this sense of flow is to select a color finish or texture which will unite the exterior lighting on the property, Jamie explains. This may also be used when choosing key garden furniture pieces. 'For example,' Jamie continues, 'you may decide that all of the exterior lights will be selected in black with an element of copper – which would be particularly on-trend for 2021.' You could then mirror this palette for your outdoor seating ideas, or accessories.
'The most important aspect of exterior lighting that should match is the color of the light emitted,' Jamie adds. ‘This is called Kelvin and it will be specified in the product details when you are browsing.'
The team at Lights4fun favor warm white lights. 'Hang fairy lights up high, line your dining table with candles and place stake lights in your shrubs,' they recommend. 'The warm glow is sure to create a cozy space to host friends and family over the summer months.'
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